Saturday, January 9, 2021

January 6, 2021

via Unsplash

On the morning of January 6, 2021, I was happy because it was clear that Democrats had won both of the Senate runoff races in Georgia. Since last November, I'd donated to the Warnock and Ossoff campaigns and to Fair Fight in hopes of helping to make this happen, but I hadn't really dared to get my hopes up too much. With the news of the results of the Georgia Senate runoffs, it was shaping up to be a good day. 

Then, in the afternoon, there was an attempted coup incited by our outgoing President, in which domestic terrorists breached the US Capitol Building while Congress was in session. I was horrified and disgusted. I don't think I am equal to the task of writing something adequate to address what happened, but it also doesn't feel right to not say anything. 

The thing that struck me most in the heat of the moment, when the Capitol Building was breached, was the stark reminder of how deeply racism permeates law enforcement and policing in our country. As President-Elect Biden stated in his January 7 speech:

"No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn't have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol. We all know that's true, and it is unacceptable. Totally unacceptable. The American people saw it in plain view." 

Last year, I did a bit of pro bono work related to NYPD police reform, a surpassingly small contribution to the fight against police violence and racially discriminatory policing here in NYC. This, in particular, is an area in which the work of individual lawyers is hard, against tall odds (in part because of qualified immunity), time-consuming, and ultimately feels like a mere drop in the bucket. I saw how one important reform took decades, really, and the major victory in that area was through legislative reform, not litigation. Even then, that new legislation is currently being held up by legal challenges from the police unions. 

I also feel a particularly intense disgust for people like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley. It's probably too much to hope for that their political careers be tanked forever by what they've said and done this week, but I hope for it nonetheless. In truth, this same special opprobrium is appropriate for any attorney that has voluntarily participated in the efforts to undermine the recent presidential election, whether by appearing as attorneys of record in the relevant cases or by making public statements spouting lies about election fraud. Those cases clearly added fuel to the fire. 

As part of the process of being admitted to the bar, I took an oath to support and defend the US Constitution, and this is true about every attorney from every state. We are obligated to maintain our integrity, along with our competence, in the practice of law. Our duties of professional responsibility also require candor to the tribunal, that we tell the truth to the Court, including by refusing to offer up information or evidence that we know to be false. (Different state bars may phrase their professional responsibility rules somewhat differently, but the same general obligations should be present everywhere.) It seems clear to me that so many attorneys involved in the litigation seeking to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election have failed in these duties.

And that's all I've got. I don't think my words are adequate or particularly eloquent in addressing this historical moment. It's been horrifying and sad, and I'm afraid of what all this means for the future of American democracy. I do at least derive some satisfaction from the sitting President's permanent suspension from Twitter, and only wish the company would have made this decision sooner. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to hear from anyone who might be reading! Please feel free to leave a comment or question.